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Lessons Learned From Wall Street Protesters and the Movie 8 Mile

October 14, 2011 · 82 comments

in Life, Misc Tips

The “Occupy Wall Street” protest is still going strong in Zuccotti Park in New York, and protests continue to proliferate throughout the country.

One thing that tends to happen when a group of people occupy a small area for a period of time is, garbage accumulates. So, Brookfield Properties, who own Zuccotti Park, said that the Occupy Wall Street protesters must leave so  the park could be cleaned up and power washed. Occupiers could return after the cleaning, although they would be required to follow rules of the park, such as no more sleeping bags and tents.

If All You Need Is Cleaning, We Will Do It Ourselves!

Protesters felt that the ‘cleaning’ was merely a ploy being used to get them to give up their protest.  So, to head off the efforts of Brookfield Properties, protesters took matters into their own hands.  On the eve of the proposed cleaning, protesters cleaned up the park themselves.  They scrubbed, threw out garbage, and basically made the park more sanitary.  As a result of their efforts, park owners have postponed their planned cleaning of the property.

B-Rabbit And The Strategy Used To Win The Final Rap Battle

For those not aware of the movie ‘8 Mile’ starring Eminem, the synopsis is this:  Rapper B-Rabbit (Eminem) is from a broken home, lives in a trailer park, has a blue collar job, and occasionally raps at night in Detroit.  Of course, B-Rabbit has his enemies (namely, members of the group “Leaders of the Free World”), and to make matters worse, his girlfriend is not very monogamous. Basically, B-Rabbit’s life is a shambles and he also has a prior history of freezing when it is his turn to take the microphone during rap battles.

Near the end of the movie, B-Rabbit gets a buddy to cover for him at his job and he races off to a warehouse for a huge rap battle. During the battle, B-Rabbit has to out-rap various members of the group “Leaders of the Free World”.  He beat them one by one, and the final battle is between Rabbit and the kingpin of the “Leaders of the Free World”, “Doc”.

In the battle, Rabbit goes first and he starts thinking about all the the things Doc could use against him in the battle. So, Rabbit decides to strip Doc of all ammunition and raps about Rabbit’s own messed up life:  his drunk mom, being white trash, getting beat up, etc etc. He then reveals Doc’s real name is Clarence and that he is a privileged kid from a two-parent household and as someone that really should have no street cred (all true).  The crowd goes wild, Rabbit hands Clarence the microphone, and all Clarence can do is lower his head and walk away.  Rabbit stripped him of all rappability by saying everything that Clarence could have said.  After all, how fun is it to make fun of somebody who already admitted all of their downfalls?

How 8 Mile and the Protesters Are Similar

Even though the two situations are totally different, both the protesters and B-Rabbit were able to succeed by doing one thing:  taking away the power of the opposition.  The protesters took on the cleaning so the property owners couldn’t justify evicting them, and B-Rabbit admitted all his faults in front of crowd to defuse the message that Clarence was going to try to send.

It is amazing how admitting to downfalls and also taking action can totally neutralize the opposing party.  Although not everyone will be involved in warehouse rap battles or live in a park to protest wealth distribution, many people could stand to think about areas of vulnerability that they need to be acknowledge and address.  Doing so may just save a job or create opportunity!


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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

The Biz of Life October 14, 2011 at 9:46 am

Brookfield Properties can evict the protesters anytime they want to—- after all, this is private property and the protesters are trespassing. They choose not to because they fear the bad PR and that the wrath of the mob might be turned on them—- after all, Brookfield ise heavily dependent on wall street to finance their deals. I’m hoping this OWS crowd just disappears as the weather gets colder so we don’t have to listen to them whining about someone else not paying their bills.


Kris October 14, 2011 at 9:56 am

You mean you can’t take off work to protest in a park for a month? I love how even in Iran they are saying that the US is falling apart from within, as proven by these protests.

I will say though that it was smart of the protesters to take care of business and clean up instead of having to be physically thrown out by police. Soon enough, the ground will be covered in snow and power washing will no longer be a problem.

I laughed about how once evicted, these people won’t be able to bring in sleeping bags in tents again. If it is an issue, then why not just enforce the rule now?


The Biz of Life October 14, 2011 at 11:42 am

Afraid that all the people who depend on me (all 5 of them) would not be very happy if I stopped earning an income. I’m glad I have a job and can keep them off of the government dole. There’s not enough of me to go around to support all the freeloaders at these protests. They should be supporting themselves and their families by working any job they can find or starting their own business. They should have been smarter choosing their field of study and maybe gone to more cost effective (cheaper) schools. If one of them is willing to cut my grass or rake some leaves, I can give them some short-term support. I will agree with them on one thing, Wall Street and the banks should not be too big to fail, and the businesses should be run without a backstop except what the FDIC provides. If that means splitting the banks up into multiple pieces, one that is gov’t guaranteed and others that are exposed to the full market risk of going bankrupt if they make poor decisions, then so be it.


Kris October 17, 2011 at 8:10 am

I am kind of a hypocrite because I too agree that the banks shouldn’t be too big to fail, but I definitely wanted the automotive companies to be bailed out…


Kellen @ Accountant by Day October 14, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Haha, “not very monogamous” – nice description.

I heard my boss re-telling this same story about the cleaning today, only he thought they were hilarious, and also said they didn’t clean in the end, because they didn’t have water.

It’s easy to compare them to yourself and assume that if you are doing well, they could be too. But how equal is the playing field, really?


Kris October 17, 2011 at 8:06 am

I didn’t think about the water issue. I can imagine the garbage does really accumulate though, so I am sure there was some non-water cleaning that needed to be done.

I don’t really compare them to myself necessarily. However, maybe I could as I did pay for all my college and did come from privileged means. I know the job market is tough now, but spending all day in a park may not be the best way to find employment, although wealth distribution is more their issue. (you have more wealth if you spend the day working though.)


retirebyforty@retireby40.org October 14, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Nice coloration. I don’t listen to rap, but that movie was pretty good. 🙂
I’m going to talk to those protesters (local) this weekend. Anything you want to ask them?

I think the protesters made the right decision to clean up and not leave. After all, Brookfield said they will be allow back in if they follow the rules. One of the rule is no sleeping in the park… Once you have a foothold, you can’t give it away.


Kris October 17, 2011 at 8:02 am

Could you ask the protesters how they will keep warm in the coming weeks? 🙂

The protesters really did have no choice but to take matters into their own hands. Once they are out, it will be a lot harder to get back in.


101 Centavos October 14, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Good connection, Kris. As the practical saying goes, nothing that you do to your own self will be as painful as when others do it to you. Or something like that…


Kris October 17, 2011 at 8:00 am

It is amazing how just admitting something can make it seem so much less powerful.


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